Sunday, September 28, 2008

Headphones or Not?

I'm back in New York after a 4-hour trip from Boston, irritated by a pod-phone wearing driver on I-95 who braked unnecessarily several times (and punctuated by an adorable 2-year-old who has a predilection for puking when she's on long car trips), so put this in perspective:

Jim Gerweck at Running Times, in a recent issue, raised the issue of headphones and wearing them during races (given the popularity of the iPod). His main point: They aren't safe for the runner and those who are surrounding them.

I'm reading the letters to the editor in the November issue of Running Times (not online yet), both pro and con, and it's leading me to think that perhaps the issue isn't being taken seriously enough, despite the USATF "recommendation" banning them in races (a move that may be overturned).

Some races have banned, them, others have not. (Almost all local Brooklyn races, with a couple of notable exceptions, haven't made a statement, and NYRR hasn't taken a serious stand beyond a suggestion that they not be worn.)

It's one thing if you're running in Prospect Park or Central Park and you cut in front of a runner to get a cup of water and you don't hear them calling out a warning. That ranges between irritating and unsafe. It's another thing if you're running on a road where there are cars and you can't hear the horn.

I've been running for 25 years, and my hearing is one of the most important parts of my training, whether it be in a controlled environment (treadmill) or not. So please explain to me: How do you justify putting yourself at risk by running with headphones at a volume that you can't hear other things? And if you are racing and oblivious to other people, how do you put them at risk?

I'm more than happy to turn up the volume on my iPod when, oddly, I need to concentrate (I would have the music loud when studying at college at, today, at times when I really want to zone in, I love having the music in the background, which helps me focus). But I won't wear the iPod while running because a) I like hearing the background and b) I don't think it's safe - -I rely on all my senses while running on the roads. (Even smell, which is why I run near a certain coffee shop in Dumbo early in the AM).

I know my mind is made up, but that's not the point (and never is on this blog): What do you think?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Music That Heals 5K on Sunday

For those of you looking to get in a 5K race this Sunday, check out the Music That Heals 5K in Prospect Park. The race starts at 10 a.m. at 15th/Prospect Park West (Bartel-Pritchard Square) and is a great chance to get in a fast time after the past two days of rain.

Packet pickup is at Shephard's Hall until 9:45 a.m. (if you didn't already get it today), and there's a post-race fundraiser at Magnolia Restaurant.

October Races

Oct. 4, Grete’s Gallop/Norway Run, 1.7 M/13.1 M, Cent.Park

Oct. 4, Run for Congo Women, 5K, Roosevelt Island

Oct. 5, Miles for Midwives, 5K, Prospect Park

Oct. 5, Jeff’s Run, 5K, Staten Island

Oct. 5, Ira’s Run, 5K, Englewood, NJ

Oct. 5, Carlos Negron 5K Run, Jersey City, NJ

Oct. 5, Union EMU 5K, Union, NJ

Oct. 5, Richard’s Run HHK 5K, Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ
Oct. 5, Jersey Shore Half Marathon, Sandy Hook, NJ

Oct. 11, Hoboken UMC 5K Run, Hoboken, NJ

Oct. 12, Harry Murphy 5K, X/C, Van Cortlandt Park

Oct. 12, Get to the ‘Point 5K, Greenpoint

Oct. 12, Hackensack Run, 5K, Hackensack, NJ

Oct. 12, Nutley Fall 5, Nutley, NJ

Oct. 12, Staten Island Half Marathon, Staten Island, NY

Oct. 12, Bed-Stuy 10K, Bed-Stuy (Restoration Plaza)

Oct. 19, Race Against Violence, 5K, Fort Hamilton

Oct. 19, Terry Roemer Paramus Run, 5K/10K, Paramus, NJ

Oct. 25, Race for Open Space, 5K, Jersey City, NJ

Oct. 25, Race to the Finish, 5K, Pier 84, NYC

Oct. 26, Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff, 5M, Central Park

Oct. 26, Halloween Costume Run, Silver Lake Park, Staten Island

Learning From Your Injuries

I haven't quite figured what to make of Gina Kolata's article today in the New York Times about marathon training and coping with injuries.

There are passages such as this:

"So I joined a gym (my third) solely for its pool. Jen belongs to that gym, too. She and I began pool running, jumping into the pool with our running clothes and shoes on just after doing the elliptical."

that make me wonder slightly.

That, and the apparent ease that she managed to get into the New York Marathon ... ("As soon as registration for the New York marathon opened, I signed up.")

Then again, runners do some strange things, as I can attest to from first-hand experience, so it's entirely possible she *did* jump into the pool with her shoes on. Bet the other people in the pool were thrilled about that!

One thing that the article does raise, however, is the variety of things you can do to retain your fitness while being injured, whether it's elliptical training, biking, pool running (for those unfamiliar, you don't need shoes) or even getting ultrasound treatments.

Here's a sidebar, by the way, on what Paula Radcliffe did when she was injured to recover.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Monday Evening

Going to jumble the other stuff together in this post:

A friend of mine headed down to Philadelphia to tackle the Distance Run (hey, look, it's also sponsored by ING). Here's his report ...

When the Miami Dolphins can crush the Patriots, you know parity has hit the NFL. Of course, it isn't helping my weekly pool picks, but at least I didn't enter a win-or-die pool this year (I would have gone out on Week 1). We need something like that for the top local road races ....

Results for the Yonkers Marathon and Half Marathon are posted on these links. Felipe Vergara, 44, took second overall in the longer race in a time of 2:39:31, trailed by Carlos and Julio Sauce. Jacek Boral finished second in the half.

Deschamps Wins Hoban Run

The PO Chris Hoban Run, a 5 miler in Bay Ridge on Sunday, doesn't break out geography in their results. But I can happily say that Brooklyn resident and PPTC member Maggie Deschamps captured the top female honors with a 34:16.

Fun at the Fifth Avenue Mile

Back in the day (a galaxy long ago, far away, about the time of Return of the Jedi, give or take a year), I ran a 4:39 mile. Indoors, 8 laps, over at either Boston University or Harvard. I was coughing up a lung when I finished, but it was great being able to generate the leg speed and combine it with the endurance to simply blast a race.

These days -- I highly doubt my leg speed will allow me to even do a 70 second quarter. And if I could do a 5:39? Ecstasy. Someday I'll try the Fifth Avenue Mile. For now, however, I live vicariously through my friends and colleagues who took up the challenge on Sunday.

The best time for the borough? Fifteen-year-old Kieran Newcomb took time off from cross-country racing and blazed to a 4:41 (hah, could have taken him at my peak. Well, probably not.)

Rebecca Rosenberg-Beran, 26, was tops among women with a 5:41.

The New York Times article quotes Abe Weintraub, 98, from Brooklyn who walked the mile in 22:10.

“I had to walk,” he said. “Running gives me a headache, and you can’t run when you’re this old.”

Happy First Day of Fall

My favorite season has arrived! Leaves falling off trees so you can plow through them as you dash across grassy meadows ... ahh, pure beauty (it's a little less romantic when you try to run through piles that have built up on cracked sidewalks, end up stubbing your toe and tripping, but I vow that won't happen this year).

And of course, the temperature has reached a semblance of normality, allowing you run, and not drip, as you rack up the miles.

A ton of races over the past weekend, not all of them have their results up, so let me take a random stab at some of them and add to them over the week. I'll also try to get the October and some November races up by this weekend (there's this little thing called the New York Marathon that I hear that some of you might be thinking about.)

And while I'm thinking about it (kind of like the spring forward, fall back thing with the clocks): Have you picked your NYRR race to volunteer yet? Wonder how many people will try to put in for the Joe Kleinerman 10K in December

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Queens Half Results are In

A random comment about today’s Queens Half:

82 people broke 1:30 for the half.

Why? Check out these brutal conditions at race start for Queens: 73 degrees, 87% humidity.

In comparison, 351 people ran faster than 1:30 in the Brooklyn Half back in May, when it was 48 degrees and 93% humidity.

Ahh, but how do these compare to the Bronx Half’s, when they were run in the summer (and I confess, I miss the death march down the Grand Concourse):

2005 Bronx: 75 deg., 55% humidity. 139 broke 1:30
2004 Bronx: 76 deg, 84% humidity, 148 (!) broke 1:30

Running sub-1:30 in any conditions is great. Running it in today’s humid morass (what happened to fall?) is awesome.

Results from today’s race can be found here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

IAAF Finals

Ahh, if I'd actually looked at the schedule earlier, I'd be telling you about the *Saturday* TV listing. But heck, I'm sure the second day of the IAAF World Athletics Final will be just as great. For those sports-obsessed fans who a) love track and b) want to spend tomorrow in front of the tube (as opposed to, say, running 15 miles :-)), check it out on the Universal Sports telecast at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Got Foot Problems?

Check out this article in the New York Times Play magazine ...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Training With People

Earlier this week, I was doing a hill workout over at the Columbia Heights hill near the Promenade (over in Brooklyn Heights). It's a short, steep hill (maybe 150 meters, 8% grade? - I need to use a GPS to get this thing measured) - anyway, perfect for the shorter hill workouts.

So, my first four are run at: 42.6 seconds, 43.1, 42.5, 42.6. I'm feeling, a little fatigued, but thinking I'll do a couple of more. I'm also thinking that I'm getting a good workout.

I'm walking down the hill (remember, the knee injury, which I continue to baby) and I see another runner - male, early 20s, built like a runner, stretching out at the bottom of the hill. I'll call him Z. We start chatting and agree to push each other for the next few hills. I joke that I'm going to hold him back (though secretly thinking that maybe I can take him.) Hah.

The next hill is done at something under 39 seconds. We stayed together for the first 50 meters (Z was being nice), and then he accelerated away. He didn't break a sweat. We jog back down the hill, run another couple (both sub 41 for me, probably sub 37 for him). Z just moved from Manhattan, looking for some running ideas, racing thoughts. I wasn't planning on it, but run an eighth hill, again sub 41, but now totally gassed. I give him some ideas, hope we run into each other again.

The point of this post isn't to talk about my times on the Columbia Heights hill (which go from the street crossing at the base to the second tree at the top, right after the crest, if you really care). It's actually two different ideas:

-- First, one of the things I love about running and racing is that you get to meet so many different people. I find it perfectly natural to go up to complete strangers and talk to them, whether they just outkicked you at the finish line or you happen to be approaching the same water fountain). I learn so much just from talking to other runners, regardless of ability, age, or what not, because while they have a shared experience, it's also completely unique. My dry cleaner runs, which we realized after he passed me/I passed him at a cross country race a couple of years ago. Who'd a thunk it?

-- Secondly (and, the ultimate point): Training with people, especially those who are slightly better than you, will make you a better runner. Not only will they give you the mental and emotional support that you might not find when you train alone, they likely will push you to perform better. Z was great timing for me, because I got a much better workout. I've also found that the speed/tempo workouts that are so necessary to get to the next level are comparatively easier done with other people than by myself (others may find they excel without anyone around them, to be sure).

OK, so that said: Where do you find people to train with? I'll post some places, both club-oriented and free flowing, over the weekend. But also, keep in mind, it's also permissible to walk up to that person you've seen countless times every morning, running the same route, and strike up a conversation.

Running in Park Slope at 6 a.m.

Readers, I recently received an e-mail from someone asking about running in Park Slope/Prospect Park in the early morning. Thoughts?

"I live in Park Slope and have been running in the evenings for awhile. However, would like to become more of an AM runner. Any thoughts about if it's safe to run in Park Slope at 6 am? I have a feeling that there are probably a lot more folks out there than I think and I'm trying to convince my current running partners to try morning runs, but still not sure if I want to run the back end of the park by myself at 6 am."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Morning

-- Should you be out running this morning, be sure to wave to the cyclists (and be careful in crossing their path) that are participating in the NYC Century. Good thing Hanna blew through, though the streets may still slippery with some of the wet leaves ...

-- The Fitness Games result for men and women are posted on the NYRR site. My favorite stat: the races were run in 94 percent humidity ...

-- The second NYRR long training run, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 13, has sold out as registration reached its 2,500 limit. So, if you don't have a number ... it's too late. One wonders, by the way, why the Central Park races can accommodate 6,000 runners but these training runs can only handle half that.

-- Not a fan of football? Universal Sports will broadcast the IAAF Grand Prix meet from Rieti, Italy, this afternoon at 3 p.m.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Upcoming Races

Still compiling the list, but there's plenty of stuff already here ...

Sept. 7, Fallen Heroes 5K Memorial Run, Elizabeth, NJ

Sept. 13, Woodlawn Run for a Cause, 5K, Yonkers, NY

Sept. 14, Corazon A Corazon Fund Raising 5K, Flushing Meadows Park, NY

Sept. 14, Queens Half Marathon, Queens, NY

Sept. 14, USATF X/C, 1 mile/3K/5K, Van Cortlandt Park, NY

Sept. 20, New Hope 5K Run, Jamaica, NY

Sept. 20, 6 Hour Ultra Marathon Race, Staten Island, NY

Sept. 21, Liz Padilla Memorial 5K, Prospect Park

Sept. 21, Berkeley Heights 5K, Berkeley Heights, NJ

Sept. 21, Yonkers Marathon, 13.1/26.2 Miles, Yonkers, NY

Sept. 21, Fifth Avenue Mile, Manhattan

Sept. 21, Project Sunshine’s 5K Run, Riverside Park, NY

Sept. 21, Fred Lebow 5K Cross Country, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

Sept. 21, Chris Hoban Memorial 5 Mile Run, Shore Road Promenade

Sept. 21, Brian’s Run for Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund, 10K/5K, Wayne, NJ

Sept. 27-28, The Shag, Adventure Race, Lower Hudson Valley

Sept. 27, Race for the Kids, 4 Miles, Riverside Park

Sept. 28, Tunnel to Towers Run, 5K, Red Hook

Sept. 28, Paine to Pain Classic, 13.1 Mile Trail, New Rochelle, NY

Sept. 28, Odyssey House Run for Your Life 5K, Icahn Stadium, NY

Sept. 28, Music That Heals

Sept. 28, Newport Liberty Half Marathon, Jersey City, NJ

Sept. 28, ING New York Marathon Tuneup, 18 Miles, Central Park

Sept. 28, USATF X/C, 1 mile/3K/5K, Van Cortlandt Park, NY

Oct. 4, Grete’s Gallop/Norway Run, 1.7 Miles/13.1 Miles, Central Park

Oct. 5, Miles for Midwives, 5K, Prospect Park

Oct. 5, Jeff’s Run, 5K, Staten Island

Oct. 12, Harry Murphy 5K, X/C, Van Cortlandt Park

Oct. 12, Staten Island Half Marathon, Staten Island, NY

Oct. 12, Bed-Stuy 10K, Bed-Stuy (Restoration Plaza)

Oct. 19, Race Against Violence, 5K, Fort Hamilton

An Ugly, Humid, Day

Today was simply brutal.

I don't think the temperature got much past 80, but the humidity? I started dripping just walking to meet some friends at Grand Army Plaza this morning. Can only hope that Hanna brings some drier air after it. (At least until we find out what happens with Ike).

It's a reminder, though, that even on days now that the summer has passed us by, to be prepared. Modify your runs or races if you're not adequately prepared to battle the elements (remember the Chicago Marathon last year?) My on-again/off-again knee injury started tweaking again, and I was readily happy to cut a planned 10 mile run short. I still paid for it: It took me most of the day to get rehydrated, something I wasn't expecting, and didn't plan for, even though I had decent amounts of water on the run.

Reminder: You bought the Clif Shot Blocks. It's worth still carrying them.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New Haven Race Results

For those of you who traveled north this weekend, the New Haven 20K and 5K results are available. No location results, so can't tout the top Brooklyn finishers ...

New Sports Channel on Cable

Just stumbled across this, not sure how long it's been like this:

If you get Time Warner Cable in Brooklyn, and get 162, check it out: NBC Universal has launched UniversalSports, a cable channel with world athletics and sports. The company recently partnered with WCSN to boost the content online, and it looks like there's a cable component as well (I'm watching a track meet from Gatehead, UK, right now).

I love running, and without the right context, it can almost be like watching paint dry. The flip side is the overemotional exposure that NBC does at the Olympics, with too much story, not enough event. Here's hoping that this channel, like WCSN did, gets the balance right.